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Q / A
Answering Common Misconceptions

14. Relation between Islam and Environment 


Concerning Islam and its relation to the environment, I need you to tell me what verses state and quote this relation and whether this awareness to this relation is old or new.


The thesis of Islam is to guide humanity to the proper knowledge of Allah, His Attributes, Bounties, and to follow His guidance, for both the welfare in this world and for the sake of His rewards in the Hereafter. Man is entrusted to develop and to maintain these Bounties of Allah on this planet Earth, i.e. to develop, utilize and preserve the environment. Man is so entrusted with this mission as to be described, in the Qur’an, as a “Viceroy of Allah” on this earth:

bullet And (remember) as your Lord said to the Angels, “Surely I am making in the earth a successor.” They said, “Will You make therein one who will corrupt in it and shed blood while we (are the ones who) extol (with) Your praise and call You Holy?” He said, “Surely I know whatever you do not know.” And He taught Adam all the names; Thereafter He set them before the Angels; so He said, “Inform me of the names of these, in case you are sincere.” (English meaning of 2: 30-31)

We are then reminded repeatedly of the full range of bounties of the Creator, i.e. the natural resources:

bullet land: *And the earth – We have made extended it and cast on it anchorages (mountains), and We have caused to grow therein of everything (evenly) weighed (English meaning of 15: 19), *And the earth, after that He flattened it (for life) ( English meaning of 79: 30)
bullet water: *And We send the winds impregnating, (and) so We send down from the heaven water, then We give it to you to drink, and in no way can you even be its treasurers (English meaning of 15: 22), *Have you not seen that Allah has sent down from the heaven water, then He dispatched it as fountains in the earth; thereafter He brings out therewith plantation(s) of different colors (English meaning of 39: 21), *And We made therein lofty anchorages, and We made you to drink water grateful (to taste) (English meaning of 77: 27), *And He is (The One) Who extended the earth and made therein anchorages and rivers; and of all products He made therein two pairs, enveloping the daytime with the night (English meaning of 13: 3)
bullet biota: *And He is The (One) Who has brought into being gardens trellised and trellised, and the palm-trees, and plantation of different crops, and the olives, and the pomegranates, cosimilar and not cosimilar (English meaning of 6: 141), *And the cattle – created them is warmth and (various) uses and of them you eat (English meaning of 5: 16)

- These resources are created and made available in such a manner as to be:

-          Sustainable, due to the continuous “life cycles” (e.g. carbon, nitrogen, energy). This is expressed by “bringing live out of the dead”: *You bring the dead out of the living, and You provide whomever You provide whomever You decide without reckoning (English meaning of 3: 27), *Surely Allah is The Splitter of grains and nuclei. He brings out the living from the dead, and He is The Bringer out of the dead from the living (English meaning of 6: 95) 

-          Controlled as expressed by the verses: *And He created everything, so He has determined it an (exact) determination (English meaning of 25: 2), *And Who has been sending down from the heaven water with determined estimate (English meaning of 43: 11)  

-          Fit for human life and transportation: *He is (The One) Who made the earth tractable to you; so walk in its territories and eat of His provision; and to Him is the Rising up (English meaning of 67: 15) 

-          Always available, as exemplified in reference to the rain – water cycle: *Allah is He Who sends the winds. So they stir up clouds, then He outspreads them in the heaven how He decides and makes them into lumps. Then you see rain-drops coming out of the midst of them (English meaning of 30: 48) 

-          Pure: *And We have sent down from the heaven water most pure (English meaning of 25: 48) 

-          Well-preserved, e.g. the sky is repeatedly referred to as layers: *Who created seven heavens as strata. In no way can you see in the creation of the All-Merciful any disparity (English meaning of 67: 3); is well-preserved: *And We have made the heaven as a roof well-preserved, and (yet still) from its signs they are veering away (English meaning of 21: 32); it returns (or keeps from escaping away) oxygen and other gases, water vapor, thermal energy … etc: *By the heaven comprising the returning (rain … etc) (English meaning of 86: 11)

So, environmental awareness is built in the Muslim as a part of his belief and knowledge of Allah.

- Man is then invited to properly exploit and benefit from all the natural resources. As a viceroy of Allah on this earth, we have to utilize it properly, in order for the bounties to continue, and should always be grateful and thankful to Allah:

*And He subjected to you the sun and the moon, both in a steadfast manner, and He subjected to you the night and the daytime. And He has bought you of all you asked Him; and in case you number the favor(s) of Allah, you (cannot) enumerate them. Surely man is indeed constantly unjust, most disbelieving (English meaning of 14: 33-34), *So eat of what Allah has provided you, lawfully good, and thank (Him) for the favor of Allah, in case it be Him only that you do worship (English meaning of 16: 114)

- Muslims have been warned repeatedly of spoiling this earth through our mischief: *And do not corrupt in the earth after being tilled, and invoke Him in fear and longing. Surely the mercy of Allah is near to the fair-doers (English meaning of 7: 56), *And when he turns away, he (diligently) endeavors about the earth to corrupt in it and cause the tillage and stock to perish; and Allah does not love corruption (English meaning of 2: 205), *Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea for what mankind’s hands have earned, that He may make them taste some (part) of that which they have done, that possibly they would return (English meaning of 30: 41)

- The Prophet (peace be upon him) have guided us to preserve the water from pollution: “Avoid the two acts deserving a curse.” The companions asked, ’What are such acts that deserve a curse? He (the Prophet) said, “Relieving oneself on the road or under the shades where people take rest.” (Abu Dawud)

Also: None of you must wash in a standing water.” (Muslim) 

- To keep a clean safe environment is also a prophetic guidance:

“And to remove a harmful thing from the way is also Sadaqah (a charity).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Also: “While a man was passing along a road, he saw a thorny branch. He removed it. Allah appreciated his action and forgave him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) 

Hence, it can be concluded that a Muslim, through a proper understanding and appreciation of the notions and guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah, would be a natural “friend of the environment”.